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Closing the Cloud Factories: Lessons from the Fight to Shut Down Chicago’s Coal Plants

By Kari Lydersen
Published by Midwest Energy News, June 2014

At the turn of the millennium, the Fisk and Crawford power plants in Chicago had declined from workhorses of the Industrial Revolution to arcane relics – more notorious for polluting the nearby Pilsen and Little Village neighborhoods than for providing electricity. Kari Lydersen tells the story of how a fragmented coalition of neighborhood activists, national environmental groups and city leaders came together to close the coal plants down for good… a groundbreaking victory in the environmental and social justice movements, where neighborhood activists helped spearhead a cause that resonated worldwide.


Mayor 1%: Rahm Emanuel and the Rise of Chicago's 99%

By Kari Lydersen
Haymarket Books, 2013.

How did a city long dominated by a notorious Democratic Machine become a national battleground in the right-wing war against the public sector? Mayor 1% takes a close look at Chicago mayor Rahm Emanuel and his true agenda.With deep Wall Street ties from his investment banking years and a combative political style honed in Congress and the Clinton and Obama administrations, Emanuel is among a rising class of rock-star mayors promising to remake American cities. But his private-sector approach has sidelined and alienated many who feel they are not part of Emanuel's vision for a new Chicago—and it has inspired a powerful group of activists and community members to unite in defense of their beloved city.

Interviews and Reviews
Praise for Mayor 1%


Revolt on Goose Island: The Chicago Factory Takeover, and What it Says About the Economic Crisis

By Kari Lydersen
Melville House Books, 2009.

December 5, 2008: It wasn’t supposed to work like this. Days after getting a $45 billion bailout from the U.S. government, Bank of America shut down a line of credit that kept Chicago’s Republic Windows & Doors factory operating. The bosses, who knew what was coming, had been sneaking machinery out in the middle of the night. They closed the factory and sent the workers home. Then something surprising happened: Republic’s workers occupied the factory and refused to leave.

Interviews and Coverage
Praise for Revolt on Goose Island
The Story Continues…


Shoot an Iraqi: Art, Life and Resistance Under the Gun

By Wafaa Bilal and Kari Lydersen
City Lights Booksellers and Publishers, 2008.

Wafaa Bilal's childhood in Iraq was defined by the horrific rule of Saddam Hussein, two wars, a bloody uprising, and time spent interned in chaotic refugee camps in Kuwait and Saudi Arabia. Bilal eventually made it to the U.S. to become a professor and a successful artist, but when his brother was killed at a U.S. checkpoint in 2005, he decided to use his art to confront those in the comfort zone with the realities of life in a conflict zone. Thus the creation and staging of "Domestic Tension," an unsettling interactive performance piece: for one month, Bilal lived alone in a prison cell-sized room in the line of fire of a remote-controlled paintball gun and a camera that connected him to internet viewers around the world. Visitors to the gallery and a virtual audience that grew by the thousands could shoot at him 24 hours a day. Structured in two parallel narratives, the story of Bilal's life journey and of his "Domestic Tension" experience, this first-person account is supplemented with comments on the history and current political situation in Iraq and the context of "Domestic Tension" within the art world, including interviews with art scholars such as Dean of the School of Art at Columbia University, Carol Becker, who also contributes the introduction.

Praise for Shoot an Iraqi


Out of the Sea and Into the Fire: Latin American-U.S. Immigration in the Global Age

By Kari Lydersen
Common Courage Press, 2005.

From the misty highlands of Chiapas or the idyllic coast of Honduras to the harsh dry desert of the US-Mexico border, to a frozen street corner in Chicago or a sweltering tomato field in Florida, these are the stories of Latin American migrants in the age of globalization. As the effects of free trade policies become felt throughout the region, we look at the personal tales of people forced to leave their homelands and forge a new existence in Latin American cities, in the border nether-lands, or in the US. Behind the acronyms like NAFTA, FTAA and PPP, we see fishermen sadly leaving the sea in Oaxaca, young women toiling in toxic conditions in the maquilas at the border, immigrants bravely and successfully fighting for their rights in the US.

Praise for Out of the Sea and Into the Fire
Interviews and Reviews